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Lorry driver admits causing deaths of two men on Sheffield M1 'smart motorway'

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image copyrightSouth Yorkshire Police
image captionJason Mercer was one of those killed in the crash

A lorry driver has admitted causing the deaths of two men on a stretch of smart motorway.

Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, and Jason Mercer, 44, died when a lorry ploughed into their stationary vehicles on the M1 near Sheffield on 7 June 2019.

Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba, 40, admitted two counts of causing death by driving without due care and attention when he appeared at Sheffield Magistrates' Court.

He will be sentenced next month.

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Mr Mercer's wife, Claire, has mounted a campaign against smart motorways and the case has become a leading example in the ongoing debate over the safety of these roads in the UK.

The court heard Mr Mercer, from Rotherham, and Mr Murgeanu, from Mansfield, stopped in the slow lane after having a "minor bump" on the northbound carriageway of the M1 near Sheffield, between junctions 34 and 35.

'Carrying the can'

Prosecutor Susan Fisher said Szuba's Mercedes lorry "ploughed into both vehicles" but said he was not speeding and had "simply not seen the vehicles... and not slowed down sufficiently".

Defence barrister, Nicola Hale, said he had just joined the motorway at junction 34 and their stationary vehicles were only visible "for a matter of seconds".

Szuba, 40, of Adelaide Street, Hull, was given unconditional bail and is due be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on 19 October.

Ms Mercer, whose campaign groups Smart Motorways Kill and The Broken Hearts Club plan to take a government review of smart motorways to judicial review, said Szuba was "carrying the can for somebody else's mistake".

"It wouldn't have happened if it wasn't a smart motorway," she said. "He didn't get up that morning intending to kill two people. He just didn't have time to react."

In October, an eight-year-old boy died when his grandfather's car was struck by a lorry on the hard shoulder of the M6 being used by moving traffic.

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Related Topics

  • Mansfield
  • Sheffield
  • Rotherham
  • M1 motorway
  • Highways England

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